Please introduce yourself. What do you do? Why? What do you want people to know about you?
My name is Amber and I’m a British actress living in New York City.
I moved to New York in January 2019, a whole year before the world collapsed on itself, after a long battle with depression and anxiety (https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/derby-news/aspiring-derby-actress-overcomes-depression-1942658.amp)
My mental health had been holding me back for many years and after a long struggle, I was offered a life-changing opportunity. I had secured a place at America’a oldest drama school – The American Academy of Dramatic Arts. I had no idea how I was going to make it work, but I took the plunge.
I remember so vividly crying into my families arms at the airport and vomiting in the bathroom before I boarded that plane, alone, with nothing but one suitcase, one piece of hand luggage and $1000 to my name.
Three weeks before I was due to graduate, the world locked down and catapulted my life into chaos and uncertainty again. Without the ability to graduate, my visa was compromised, there would be no chance to complete my acting school journey, our Final Performance to agents and casting directors was cancelled and I was stuck on the other side of the ocean with no family, no money and no hope.
Fast forward to today – I’m married to the love of my life, who just so happened to my roommate at the time and fellow AADA graduate, and we have spent the last few years supporting one another, uplifting each other mentally and creatively and having the courage to follow our dreams by acting and directing together – predominantly at The American Theatre of Actors.
We started out small, acting together in a two-man show about a couple going through a nasty divorce directed by our dear friend. We played opposite each other as Victor and Brenda in John Patrick Shanley’s “4 Dogs and a Bone” before moving on to doomed lovers Hamlet and Ophelia in Shakespeare’s full-length (all 4 hours!!!) tragedy – Hamlet.
This year, we took our artistry to the next level and have collaborated on directing and performing in the brand new, Off-Broadway musical “Dream On, Baransky!” in April which, after a successful run, will be returning to the stage for a revival this October.
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
I think what makes all human beings unique are our background, where we come from and how to take the hand we were dealt and turn it into a life worthy and purposeful.
My grandfather was born in Ukraine before being torn from his family home at the tender age of 16 by nazi soldiers and sent to a camp.
Some years later, he was liberated by English soldiers and sought refuge in the UK where he met my grandmother, and had my mum.
His family did not see him for 26 years and he was assumed dead but his mother never, ever, gave up the search for her son and after 27 long years of never losing hope – the Red Cross reunited them.
That story touched me from the minute I heard it as a child and has formed my work ethic and my determination as an adult. If my grandad was able to endure and escape the horror inflicted upon him by nazi’s and my great grandmother had enough hope and faith to never give up throughout all of those hopeless years – then I can do anything I put my mind to.
It’s also shaped how I handled my own immigration journey. I wasn’t able to see my family for three years and it was heart wrenching, but a worthy sacrifice.
Describe THAT moment when you realized you’re doing what you were born to do.
There have certainly been a few of these over the last few years. From having an emotional breakthrough in some of my earliest acting classes and realizing that I am capable of this to having a breakdown in a run-down, mice-infested, dirty, freezing cold apartment with very little food but still clinging onto the hope that it would work out to doing my first ever Off-Broadway performance alongside my now husband and feeling like we’re on the brink of making it after all the struggling.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to go through and how did you grow through it?
My mental health journey was certainly the first and the hardest. I’ve been treated for clinical depression and anxiety since I was 14, at 24 I was at rock bottom. In therapy for suicidal thoughts, abusing alcohol, unable to work, unable to brush my teeth or get out of bed, feeling like the torture would never end.
Being stuck in NYC with no money, no visa and no family during the global pandemic was equally terrifying and hopeless. My husband really got me through that and I am so grateful for him every day.
Who are the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could elevate your career or business? Why these specific individuals?
1) Greta Gerwig – I’d love to pick her brain regarding being such an influential woman in the industry making the waves that she is.
2) Jodie Comer – her performance in Prima Facie moved me to tears from start to finish. If I can be half the actor that she is one day I’d die happy. I admire that she also comes from a working-class British family and has carved such an impactful career touching on powerful subject matters.
3) Andrea Arnold – I think she makes THE perfect indie movies. The soundtracks, the color grading, the casting and again, the true to life subject matters really strike a chord with me. Another woman in the industry making phenomenal movies – the kind of movies I’d dream of being in.
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